This exhibition sees Barr move toward a more contemporary image set, offering an alternative to the historical narrative works for which he is known. He has created a body of work cohesive in a central theme – stripped back in terms of colour palette, geographical location and other elements that have made up his folio to date. Barr has reached out to a spiritual connectedness – unrelated to religion – leaning more towards a DNA coding inherent in the forgotten strands of essential mankind.
“These works explore our relationship to the avian species of New Zealand and in turn expose facets of the human condition where parallels or hints of similarities may be drawn. A zoomorphic element binds the images where feathers are implanted under the skin, alluding to a bi-nature and reflect the physical alterations and adornments we commit our own bodies to through practices such as piercing, scarification, tattoo and implants. These alterations are taken for granted in modern society, so to push it one step further into the ethereal seemed like a small hop. I deliberately refrain from the mysticism of wings, opting for an image set where the figures are human with alterations, rather than genetic hybrids.
The concept of Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is related by the suspended figures overlooking the land, though each needs their perching hoop to maintain altitude and reveals the physical restrictions we face as earth-bound bipeds. The hoop itself has a myriad of symbolic references relating to eternity, rebirth, evolution, etc.
Other narratives also come into play, e.g. the New Zealand Falcon (Karearea) and the perceived sport of falconry. These and other elements within the works open deeper conversations and explore questions relating to captivity, domestication, restriction of freedom within society and the loneliness and separateness those restrictions can manifest.”